Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Grand Experience...

After each speech tournament I try to write about it and I always find myself facing the same dilemma.  How does one describe a tournament?  How can I describe feeling God's presence nearly crush me as I walk into a round?  How could I adequately explain the beauty of being prayed for, and praying for others, in the hallways before we speak?  How could I express how many lessons I've learned over the past four years in a simple little blog post?

I try, but I know that I fail miserably in my attempt of painting a picture of these experiences for you.

This last tournament took place in Spokane, Washington.  I didn't know it until we were driving to the location, but my cousin, Caroline, who passed away two years ago, when she was nineteen, is buried right down the street from where I was speaking last week.  It was strange presenting my Persuasive, in which I talk about the lessons I learned from her death, knowing that she was so near by.

I competed in five speech events at this tournament, and I actually had four speeches in one pattern and only one in the other.  I knew it would be harder than having three speeches in one pattern, but I hadn't realized just how much harder it was going to be.  Somehow God worked everything out beautifully and I didn't die, so all is good.

My sister and I broke to semi finals in our duo!!!  I'm thrilled that we will be able to compete with it at our Regional Invitational in about a month and I am bursting with pride at how much Kaity has grown as a speaker over the past year.  We pretty nearly tackled each other when they called our names and we had a great semi round.

God is constantly teaching me more about trusting Him with everything.  I made it to semis in my Persuasive speech as well and I learned so much through that round.  See, I had been sick during most of the tournament.  It didn't cause any problems until I started coughing during my semi round of Persuasive.  I couldn't stop.  It was horrible.  I finally stopped coughing, but then I couldn't breath so I had to clear my throat and try my hardest to start speaking clearly again, only to start coughing again.  That speech is almost always about nine minutes and forty seconds, and that round it was eleven twenty.  Finally I was able to stop and I finished strong but I walked out of the room knowing that I wouldn't be speaking in finals.

I started crying in the hall afterward.  I think it was mostly due to lack of sleep and stress, but it really was disappointing to mess up like that.  I got my ballots after the tournament, though, and I know that God was up to something.  In my three preliminary rounds I averaged second, first and first.  If I had had another, "normal," round I would have moved on to finals, but I didn't.  I didn't cough in any of my other speeches the entire tournament but that round I couldn't stop.  There was a reason that I didn't move on.  I may never know what that reason was but God didn't want me in finals.

Sometimes we just have to take a step back and realize that everything that happens to us happens because it's part of God's plan.  Yes, I was disappointed, but by the time they announced breaks to Finals I was totally fine with the fact that they didn't call my name.  Yes, of course I was frustrated that I had messed that round up, but there was a reason that it happened.  Yes, naturally I wish I had advanced further, my Persuasive is my favorite speech after all, but God had a better plan.

I made it to finals in Illustrated and Original Interp and both of those speeches went quite well.  I had a nice group watching each of them and God ended up blessing me with third place in Illustrated and second (and qualifying to Nationals) in Original.  I also ended up getting very surprised and placing sixth in overall Individual Events Sweepstakes.  I got my ballots back and God was doing some amazing work in judges hearts through my speeches.

Speech is such a humbling thing!  I spend time writing, memorizing and perfecting speeches and somehow God can, and does, use my efforts to bless somebody, convict somebody or encourage somebody.  I'm really going to miss this next year, but I can hardly wait to be on the other side of the tournament and hear about how my friends are continuing to bless judges with their speeches.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28)

I'm in the middle in the front row.

Over and out,